A Perfectly Normal Family
Innocent, pure but incredibly raw, A Perfectly Normal Family is a quiet drama that concentrates on the minutiae of everyday life and how they can be torn apart by a circumstantial and emotional change, placing specific attention on the effects such an alteration can have on the younger mind.
The feature directorial debut of Malou Reymann, who takes inspiration directly from her own personal experiences, A Perfectly Normal Family is viewed through the eyes of Emma (Kaya Toft Loholt), a young, football-loving Danish girl who finds her once ordinary life turned upside down when her father Thomas (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), announces she is to transition. As Thomas becomes Agnete, Emma struggles to come to terms with her father’s transformation, and in a desperate attempt not to see their relationship fall apart, the two take small steps over the coming weeks and months to reach an understanding of acceptance of this new, permanent life they both must face.
Choosing to approach its themes in a restrained and naturalistic manner, the film is honest in its depiction of the chasms that immediately appear between family members when one announces they are transgender. Particularly for children, it can be an enormous adjustment to comprehend, and Reymann’s film proves an excellent portrayal of these difficulties. By taking a less direct and intrusive approach to the narrative, she allows her actors to carry the script in their own way, building their own relationships on screen to such beautiful effect you at times forget that they are actors and not a real life family.
There is sizeable onscreen chemistry between Loholt and Følsgaard, who tackle their respective characters with a reserved passion as they see their connection rise and fall like a meandering river, before ultimately seeing that time heals all wounds. There will, I am sure, be criticism that a cisgendered actor was cast in the role of Agnete, but regardless, Følsgaard executes his duties brilliantly. Emma’s mother Helle (Neel Rønholt) sees her storyline tragically almost completely sidelined following a divorce in the opening twenty minutes, practically vanishing from view until the final act, and it would have been nice to explore the emotional and psychological effect such a change can have on the entire family, although the specific attention on the children is understandable.
Reymann poses the conflicting perceptions of a “perfect family” throughout, interjecting the drama with home videos of the cast when the children were very small and Agnete was still Thomas. However, as the credits roll, one finds oneself asking what a “perfectly normal family” is anyway. Every household has its faults; it is just the topic of gender issues that is currently establishing itself within society, presenting unapproached circumstances and pressures for families to tackle. The film may be unobtrusive, but its subject matter is loud and very real in the present day and age, making A Perfectly Normal Family an endearing spectacle from start to finish, albeit a little unadventurous.
A Perfectly Normal Family is released in select cinemas on 2nd October 2020.
Watch the trailer for A Perfectly Normal Family here: